How To Clear Recent Files And Folders From Your Mac

There are several ways to find and clean recent activities on Mac. Check them out!

Blog Summary: In this guide, we’ll discuss an easy solution to clear recent files, folders and documents via Finder and Terminal tools. You will also learn a quick tactic to remove activity history from popular browsers like Safari, Firefox, and Chrome. Not only this, we will also share a BONUS TIP to keep your Mac cleaned and optimized in a few clicks. 

Whenever you click on Recents in the Finder, you are displayed with a huge list of files. This includes search queries, shortcuts to files (that are used to create folders), logs for recently opened applications/files, servers to which you have lately connected, and more, which most of you might not be even aware of.  

To be honest, finding and clearing these traces manually after each session is certainly not possible. It can be a cumbersome process to locate these files and clear them. In this article, we’ll discuss some common ways to clear recent files on Mac. 

What Is the Recents Folder on macOS?

Recents Folder Aka Smart Folder doesn’t actually exist! Well, it’s not like your usual folder, packed with contents. Instead, it contains shortcuts to files, based on your search patterns (in this case the search patterns referred to recently-opened files). 

Do not forget, deleting the contents of Recents will also remove the source files. Hence, clearing the Recent Folders on MacBook isn’t as straightforward as moving the files to the Trash Bin. 

How To Clear Recent Files, Folder, And Documents In Finder On Mac

Generally, to avoid digital data collection when browsing the web, people use private browsing mode. But again remembering it each time when you visit a site is not possible.

Accessing a site when using the web browser in normal mode, leaves a security gap, and anyone can see search history, cache, cookies, and other data.

Therefore, bridging this gap is very important. So, here we explain how to clear privacy exposing traces from any browser(s). This will help speed up the browser and boost Mac’s performance.

In addition to this, we will also explain how to clear recent files in Finder on Mac.

How to Clear Recent Items on Mac

To clear history of recently viewed files, folders or documents on Mac follow the steps explained below:

1. Click Apple icon

2. From the menu select Recent Items > this will list down recently used documents and apps.

 

Clear Recent Files

 

3. Scroll down and click Clear Menu.

 

Clean Folder From Mac

 

4. This will clear all the items that you can see in the Recent Items list.

5. To confirm that the data is deleted click the Apple icon > Recent Items.

6. You’ll now not see any items in the list. This means the list showing recent files, documents on Mac is now cleared.

Using Terminal command disable document history

If you want a permanent solution to this document history problem, you can use a Terminal command. Using it, you will be able to decide whether to hide or show recent items. To use, follow the steps below:

1. Head to Applications > Utilities

 

Clean Folder From Mac

 

2. Click Terminal to open it

3. Here, enter the following command and press Enter:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE killall Finder

This command will make Finder show all hidden files.

4. Now, to hide everything use, the following command:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles FALSE killall Finder

This way you can show or hide recent files in Finder on Mac.

Alternatively, you can press CMD + SHIFT to show or hide files and then can clear recently opened document history.

Use whichever way you like and clear documents, background running apps, or any processes that might be taking up processing power.

Now, let’s learn how to clear browsing data and cookies from the popular browsers on Mac.

How to clear Activity History in browsers like Safari, Firefox, and Chrome?(2023)

BONUS TIP: Simplest and Easiest Way to Clean Your Mac

If you use multiple browsers, there’s nothing to worry about. You can quickly find and delete search history from each browser by following the steps explained below:

However, if you are short on time, you can use advanced security utilities like Cleanup My System to find and clean all privacy exposing traces with just a click.

Simply install Cleanup My System and look for the Protection module in the left pane. Click on it and run a scan to find browsing traces, privacy-exposing data of each browser in one place. Additionally, you can utilize other modules like Cache & Logs, Junk, Mail Attachment, Trash & more to get rid of all the potential threats and obsolete data in no time.

Cleanup My System

Steps to clear cookies from Safari – Manually

1. Open Safari browser

2. Click Safari from the top menu > Clear History

Clear Recent Files

3. Now to clean cache, cookies again click Safari from the top menu.

4. Select Preferences

Clear Recent Files

5. Click Preferences > Privacy > Manage Website Data

Clear Recent Files from Mac

6. This will open a pop-up window. Wait for it to show results and click Remove All > Done

Clean Folder From Mac

That’s all. You have successfully cleared cookies and other recent data from Safari.

Manual way to clear History from Firefox

1. Launch Firefox

2. Click Firefox from the top menu and select Preferences

Clear Recent Files

3. This will open a new window, here click Privacy & Security option from the left pane. Scroll down and look for Cookies and Site Data section.

Clean Folder From Mac

4. Click Clear Data

5. Select both options Cookies and Site Data and Cached Web Content > Clear

5. This will clear cache and cookies from Firefox. In addition to this to clear history under the History, tab clicks Clear History.

Clear Recent Files

This will erase all browsing history from Firefox on your Mac.

Clearing Browsing Data, Cache, Cookies Manually on Chrome

1. Launch Chrome

2. Click “Chrome” in the top toolbar > Clear Browsing Data.

Clean Folder From Mac

3. You will now get a box to select which data you want to delete. Select the ones you want to delete and the timeline.

Clean Folder From Mac

That’s it all the search history and other data is now cleared.

Conclusion

To be honest, clearing recent items isn’t as simple as deleting any random file on your Mac. The reason is, all the contents are stored in multiple areas on your Mac, depending on the browsers and apps you use. However, by following the aforementioned workarounds you can easily wipe the latest activity traces on your Mac, preventing unauthorized tracking from those who have access to your Machine. 

If you know any other workaround to delete Recent Folders on your latest macOS version, do share the hack with us in the comments section below! 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1. How do you delete recent activity on your Mac?

  • Hit the Apple logo in the menu bar. 
  • Select Recent Items from the dropdown menu. 
  • You will see the list of documents & apps used recently. 
  • Simply, scroll down to the bottom and choose the Clear Menu option. 
  • To check again, click the Apple logo again and all the Recent Items should be cleared! 

Q2. How do I turn off recent files on Mac?

Fortunately, Mac allows you to disable recent files on MacBook. 

  • Launch Finder and navigate to Settings. 
  • From the sidebar of the window, simply uncheck the box next to Recents. 
  • Now, click the red button to close Settings. 

Recents will be disappeared and be turned off from Finder now!  

Q3. How to clear the cache on Mac?

  • Launch Finder and click go from the toolbar. 
  • Next, you need to hit ‘click Go to Folder’ from the menu. 
  • On the new pop-up menu, simply type type ~/Library/Caches 
  • Hit the Enter button! 
  • You will see the list of all Mac’s cached files. 
  • Select all and right-click to choose Move to Trash or Move to Bin option. 

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